Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hop Garden - End of Season

After the last harvest, I left the plants to soak up as much sun as possible. Here in Oklahoma, the nights have started getting down to the low 50s so I decided it was time to trim back the plants and get ready for winter. I decided to experiment a bit to see if I could propagate some rhizomes for planting/exchange next spring. I decided to try 2 things, leave some bines connected to the crown and bury them, and trim some completely from the plant and bury them in a trench. I was told the latter wouldn't work, but hey it was worth a shot.

To start, I stripped all of the plants of foliage from the top, leaving the lower bines connected to the crown. The picture on the left is one of the centennial plants stripped. For the bines left connected to the crown, I created a coil around the main stem coming out of the ground (right). That coil was then covered with fresh dirt (lower left). I'm hoping that this will allow these bines to continue to be supported by the crown, but start to grow some rootlets.

The picture lower right is of the centennial bines I buried in a trench at the back of my hop garden. I just took some long bine sections from the lower part of the plant, dug a trench a few inches deep and then placed the bines in there. In the spring, I'll dig up the trench and see if the bines are still alive or whether they have died. Either way, I will not have lost anything!

Within the next few weeks, I'll be covering the entire hop garden in a blanket of leaves raked from the yard. These will help to provide a blanket over the winter and will be easy to remove in the spring. After harvesting rhizomes in the spring, I will put down a more permanent mulch.

The Hop Bomb - Active Fermentation!

After all the issues I faced with this brew, it's good to see that the yeast is happy! This being the first fermentation I've done in glass I was amazed at what went on during the fermentation. I decided to shoot some video of it and post it here.


We are now 3 days into fermentation and it has slowed some, enough that I could finally add an air lock. At the start of fermentation, I knew that it would plug up an airlock due to foam, so I just sanitized a plastic Arnie's Bar cup and used it to cover the top of the fermenter to keep anything from falling into it. I was also sure to put the fermenter in a plastic tub to keep from making a mess on the floor!

The Hop Bomb Nightmare Brew

Well, as previously posted, this brew was not all that enjoyable. I had several problems in getting it completed, and I hope that in the end it is worth all the effort.

I organized all the equipment and got the initial mash water warming to temp. At temp, I added to the mash tun and stirred in the grain. All going well. While warming the sparge water I ran out of propane and had to go ask my neighbor to borrow their tank. Lesson number one.... make sure you have enough propane for the brew!

I decided I wanted to do a little larger brew, so I planned to do 7 gallons. I ran the numbers in ProMash to determine how much water was needed for the mash. After the mash and sparge were complete, I had a full boil kettle, PLUS another 2.5 gallons of wort. Lesson number two.... get the new brew keggles completed so you have plenty of room to boil!

OK, so I decided to do a 90 minute boil, to boil down some of the volume before adding hops. That was going great until it boiled over on me, putting out the flame of my burner and subsequently gumming it up. I then had to remove the burner from the stand and clean it before I could proceed. Lesson number three.... avoid boil overs at all costs!

So, I got that cleaned up and got the kettle back on the burner and up to a boil. At the same time, I had the 'extra' wort boiling in smaller pots on the stove in the house. Gotta boil it for at least 60 minutes to get rid of DMS...I think it's DMS. It's for something! One of the pots boiled over on the stove making a mess! Lesson number four.... avoid brewing on the stove. Refer to lesson number two, gotta get the keggles done!

The rest of the boil went fine and I felt the trials were over. Wrong! When turning the water on for the wort chiller, I noticed that the line into the copper coil was leaking, and into the brew! A quick grab of the screw driver (still on the porch from the burner cleaning) to tighten the hose clamp fixed the problem. Lesson number five.... test the wort chiller during the brew to ensure it isn't going to leak!

OK, so the rest of the night went fine. After chilling, I whirlpooled to get the hop matter to the bottom of the kettle, then racked to the fermenter. I missed my target gravity by .02, so all in all not bad. Although, my target was only 70% efficiency. I think I'm going to see if adjusting the grain crush will help that.

The IPA is now happily fermenting. I used glass for my primary fermenter for the first time, and it has been very interesting to watch the fermentation. I never realized how much churning the wort did during fermentation, pretty freaking cool! It will ferment for another few days and then I will rack to the secondary and add dry hops.

Below are pictures from the brew:

Chek out the Arnie's Bar cup I used instead of the arilock. That will be replaced with an airlock after the initial fermentation slows.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

American Citrus IPA - The Hop Bomb

Well, I finally did it, I brewed with some of my homegrown hops. I've included the recipe below if you are interested. In another post, I'll go in detail about the nightmare that was this brew.

American Citrus IPA - The Hop Bomb

Grain Bill
14.00 lbs. Pale Malt(2-row)
1.50 lbs. Wheat Malt
0.75 lbs. Crystal 60L
0.50 lbs. Cara-Pils Dextrine Malt
0.50 lbs. Crystal 20L
0.50 lbs. Flaked Soft White Wheat
0.19 lbs. Chocolate Malt

Mash @ 154 for 60 minutes
Sparge @ 170 for 30 minutes

90 Minute Boil

Hop Schedule
60 Minutes:
1.50 oz. Amarillo Gold

20 Minutes:
0.75 oz. Amarillo Gold
1.00 oz. Cascade
0.50 oz. Centennial

5 Minutes:
1.00 oz. Cascade
0.75 oz. Amarillo Gold
0.50 oz. Centennial

Flame Out:
1.00 oz. Cascade

Dry Hop:
1.00 oz. Cascade
0.50 oz. Amarillo Gold

Yeast: Muntons Gold Dry

Sunday, October 12, 2008

2008 Harvest Totals

After drying and packaging, the final harvest yielded and additional 2.65 oz of cascade and 0.65 oz of centennial. When making the hop plugs (right), I did things a little differently this go round. I took a piece of cling wrap and placed over the end cap (lower left) of the plug chamber. I then with the cling wrap in place, inserted the tubing for the chamber (lower right). That way, when pushing the plug out of the chamber, it was already partially wrapped.

All in all, not bad for the first year.

2008 Harvest Totals
Wet Harvest:
37.30 oz Cascade
13.05 oz Centennial

Dry Packaged:
9.55 oz Cascade
3.20 oz Centennial

Friday, October 3, 2008

Final Hop Harvest - October 2

Well, the final cones have been harvested from the bines for my first year of growing. The last picking yielded in wet amounts: 2.80 oz of centennial and 11.40 oz of cascade. All in all, not a bad year considering most I've read says not to expect any hops the first year. I'll be doing a batch of pale ale or an IPA soon to try out my hops. Probably the IPA first, combining the homegrown cascade and centennial with amarillo. Yum!

My next post I'll have the total dry hop amounts for the year, and hopefully some pictures of hop plugs made with my new plugger!